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As a reaction from the season of gloom and industrial strife that had just passed away the agencies that purvey and stage-manage sensations laid themselves out to do their level best on this momentous occasion. Men who had made their reputations as special descriptive writers were mobilised from distant corners of Europe and the further side of the Atlantic in order to enrich with their pens the daily printed records of the case; one word-painter, who specialised in descriptions of how witnesses turn pale under cross-examination, was summoned hurriedly back from a famous and prolonged murder trial in Sicily, where indeed his talents were being decidedly wasted. Thumb-nail artists and expert kodak manipulators were retained at extravagant salaries, and special dress reporters were in high demand. An enterprising Paris firm of costume builders presented the defendant Duchess with three special creations, to be worn, marked, learned, and extensively reported at various critical stages of the trial; and as for the cinematograph agents, their industry and persistence was untiring.

from East of the Web

Are costume builders costume makers?

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It is not a common expression. But its meaning is completely literal

Costume builders are people who build costumes. The implication is that the costume is large and complex, and so needs to be "built". The unusual expression is used to highlight the strangeness of the world described in the story.

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Costume builders maybe categorized as a subset of garment constructors who mostly cater clothing for show business purpose or for some celebrity's styling service nowadays.

Costume builders work on a special type of clothing categorized as haute - couture. It is nowadays, designed for cosplay shoots or for some fictional movie characters. Also, their work includes clothes that can't be normally worn in daily life. They are only suited to royal households or maybe social status showoffs as in old time social gatherings in palace such as for the Duchess as mentioned in the paragraph.

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